The Skin Care Routine of Korean Women: What You Need to Know

by Lisa Ledoux
Korean woman with flawless porcelain skin performing her skin routine

You’re never too old to achieve flawless skin!

Korean beauty products have been increasingly popular in the U.S. and Canada in recent years, and for a good reason.

Korean women are known for their beautiful, flawless skin.

But what is their secret?

What skincare regime do Korean women follow to get these amazing results?

In this article, we will discuss the steps that Korean women take to prioritize their self-care and achieve healthy and glowing skin.

We’ll then follow with some products designed to help you achieve radiant, youthful-looking skin regardless of your age.

We also provide a free, downloadable, fillable morning and nighttime printable for your new Korean Skincare Routine!

Pro Tip #1

Print out the skincare routines, frame them, and hang them on your bathroom wall to stay motivated in your new routine.

Pro Tip #2

Frame the routines, and add them to a basket of Korean skincare products for the ULTIMATE caring, thoughtful, and most pampering gift!

The Skincare Routine of Korean Woman

1.) Cleansing Oil and Make-up Removal

The first step in any good skincare routine is to cleanse your skin.

Cleansing oil is a popular choice among Korean women.

It helps to remove all of the makeup and dirt that has built up on your skin throughout the day or sweat and oils that have been secreted through the night, and although some women use dedicated make-up removers at this stage, it’s not necessary.

Tip: If you are not used to using an oil-based cleanser, start using it once a week and gradually increase the frequency as your skin gets used to it.

If you have sensitive skin, look for a cleansing oil that is specifically designed for sensitive skin types.

2.) Water-Based Cleansers

Korean woman with clear radiant skin splashing water on to her face

Cleansing water is another popular choice because it removes impurities from the skin and prepares it for the next steps in your regime.

Korean women typically use a water-based cleanser to remove residual dirt, makeup, or oil from their skin and avoid using harsh soaps or cleansers that can strip the natural oils from their skin.

Try using a gentle, water-based cleanser morning and night to cleanse your skin. If you wear makeup, be sure to use a good quality cleansing oil.

This will help to ensure that all of your makeup is removed and your skin is truly clean.

3.) Gentle Exfoliating

Exfoliating is important in any skincare routine because it helps remove dead skin cells and keeps your skin looking radiant.

Korean women typically exfoliate their skin once or twice a week using a gentle exfoliator that contains natural ingredients such as bamboo extract and fruit enzymes.

When exfoliating, be sure to use gentle circular motions and avoid scrubbing too hard, which can irritate the skin. After exfoliating, follow up with a hydrating toner or essence to help soothe the skin.

4.) Toning

After cleansing, the next step in a Korean skincare routine is toning. Toning helps to restore the skin’s pH balance and prep the skin for serums and moisturizers.

Korean woman over a white basin pouring cleansing product into her hand to wash her face in the morning

Korean women typically use an alcohol-free toner that is gentle on the skin.

To tone your skin, simply apply toner to a cotton ball or pad and wipe it over your face either in the morning and at night, or just at night if you prefer.

Don’t forget to pay attention to your neck when you are toning – the skin on your neck is just as important as the skin on your face!

There are many different types of toners on the market, so find one that suits your skin type.

If you have dry skin, look for a hydrating toner; if you have oily skin, look for a toner that contains glycolic acid or other ingredients that can help control oil production.

5.) Essence

An essence is a watery, lightweight serum that is packed with active ingredients and typically used after toning and before moisturizing.

Essences help to hydrate the skin, brighten the complexion, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

Korean women typically use an essence every day, either in the morning or at night. To use an essence, simply apply it to a cotton ball or pad and wipe it over your face after toning.

You can also apply essence by putting a few drops in your hands, rubbing your hands together, and then gently patting it directly to your face using your hands until it feels fully absorbed.

6.) Serums or Ampoules

a clear glass vial with a dropper dripping serum drops, all on a pink background

Applying a serum or ampoule is the next step in a Korean skincare routine.

Serums and ampoules are concentrated treatments that target specific skin concerns such as dark spots, wrinkles, or acne.

Korean women typically use serums or ampoules that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin.

These ingredients help to hydrate the skin, brighten the complexion, and reduce inflammation.

During your morning or nighttime routine, simply apply a few drops to your face and massage them into your targeted skin area.

There are many different types of serums and ampoules on the market, so find one that suits your skin type and concerns.

7.) Eye Cream

The next step is to apply an eye cream. Eye creams are essential products for women over 40 because they help to hydrate and brighten the delicate skin around the eyes.

Some ingredients to keep an “eye” out for are snail mucin, bamboo extract, vitamins c, k, and e, as well as hyaluronic and alpha hydroxy acids, coenzyme Q10, peptides, ceramides, and niacinamide.

Like moisturizers, daytime and nighttime creams can target different skin needs. Nightime creams can be thicker and do not have any sunscreen, while daytime moisturizers can be lighter, and have caffeine and brightening ingredients.

Dab a small amount around your eyes twice daily and very gently massage it into the skin under your eyes, as per product instructions.

8.) Moisturizer

Moisturizing is an important step in Korean skincare, and it’s especially important for mature skin because it helps to keep skin hydrated and prevents it from becoming dry, dull, irritated, and inflamed.

It also helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. 

A few feature ingredients to look out for in products are hyaluronic acid, glycerin, vitamin c, peptides, shea butter, green tea extract, snail mucin, ceramides, and Centella Asiatica extract, depending on your individual needs.

To moisturize your skin, apply a generous amount of moisturizer to your face and neck, and gently massage it into your skin until it’s fully absorbed.

You can use a moisturizer morning and night, and by using two different products for night and morning routines, you can test a wider range of ingredients while targeting specific skin concerns (undereye circles, acne, dark spots, wrinkles, etc).

9.) Sunscreen

The final step in a Korean skincare routine is to apply sunscreen every morning, even if you spend the majority of your time indoors.

Sunscreen is important because it helps to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays, which can cause wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging. However, there are differences between sunscreen products sold in Korea and elsewhere abroad.

What it boils down to is that Korea has some wonderful, innovative lightweight products for your face, including sunscreen face powders for all-day touch-ups!

But I would recommend slathering on the thicker, heavyweight, broad-spectrum zinc oxide sunscreens from the neck down when you will be spending a lot of time outdoors,

Using a Korean Sunscreen that provides SPF 50 and PAA+++ coverage, gently pat 2 dime-sized amounts of sunscreen onto your face and neck until it feels absorbed.

Whatever type of sunscreen you choose, be sure to reapply it every few hours if you spend time outdoors. 

10.) Sheet Masks

A Korean woman with her hair in a towel is wearing a charcoal sheet mask

Last but not least, sheet masks are essential to any Korean skincare routine!

Sheet masks are thin sheets made from paper or fabric that are soaked in a serum containing anti-aging ingredients like hyaluronic acid or propolis extract.

These masks help improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.

They’re also great for hydrating and nourishing dry or sensitive skin.

Sheet masks do not have to be applied every day. Whenever your skin is feeling lackluster you know it’s the perfect time to pull out a sheet mask and receive a boost of hydration!

How Can I Incorporate These 10 Steps into My New Skin Care Routine?

It’s easy- shop right here!

You can jump right in and start implementing all ten steps right away, or take it slow and customize the routine to suit your specific needs and concerns.

And while this skincare regime may seem like a lot of steps, don’t be discouraged – you can always add or remove some along the way as you discover what works with your skin and what doesn’t.

The most important thing is to find products that work well for you and that you enjoy using.

With a little bit of research and effort in determining the best products for your skin type, you’ll be on your way to achieving beautiful, healthy skin

Best Korean Skincare Products

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The following is a short list of popular Korean Skincare products for each of the 10 Skincare Categories:

Oil Cleansers

1.) Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Radiance Cleansing Balm

This cleansing balm has a butter-like consistency and contains rice bran oil, rice bran water rice extract. This unscented balm melts away makeup and sebum and readies your skin for the second step of your Korean cleansing routine.

2.) Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil

This deep cleanser for sensitive skin is made with Black Currant Seed Oil Black Soybean Oil, Sesame oil, Jojoba, and Shea Butter.

3.) Banila Co. Clean it Zero Nourishing Cleansing Balm

This sherbet-like cleanser for dry skin melts into an oil when applied to the skin, making it perfect for dissolving stubborn makeup and dirt. 

Water-Based Cleansers

1.) COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

This gel cleanser for oily/acne-prone skin is designed to be gentle on your skin, while also effective at cleansing and refreshing it. 

2.) Dear, Klairs Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser

This foaming cleanser is perfect for all skin types, but it’s especially beneficial for those with dry or sensitive skin.

3.) Soosul Purifying Foam Cleanser

This creamy to foamy cleanser contains Phellinus Linteus, Cathechin, Phellinus linteus mushroom extract, Allantoin and Betain which results in slightly acidic properties to clean, protect, heal, and smoothen and soften dry, oily, rough and damaged skin.


1.) I’M FROM Fig Boosting Essence

This fig-derived natural product breaks down dead surface skin cells at the same time creating a proven moisture barrier to keep your skin plump and hydrated.

2.) Dear, Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish 

This exfoliator for dry skin contains black sugar, shea butter, and unsaturated fatty acid to remove dead skin cells while it nourishes and hydrates the skin.  

3.) Dr.G Brightening Peeling Gel

This mask contains honey, trehalose, and hollyhock for moisturizing, and vitamin c for brightening the complexion while natural cellulose gently exfoliates the skin.


1.) Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner

This is a hydrating toner that’s perfect for dry or sensitive skin. The alcohol-free formula contains beta-glucan to soothe and strengthen the skin barrier.

2.) COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

This toner contains AHAs and BHAs to exfoliate the skin, remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and reduce the appearance of blemishes.

3.) Son & Park Beauty Water

This toner contains AHA and BHA to gently exfoliate the skin and Lavender water, Rose water, and orange extracts to provide additional hydration. 


1.) The Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence

This essence contains 80% fermented yeast extract, which helps to brighten and nourish the skin while niacinamide helps to even out the skin tone and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

2.) Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream

This gel cream contains 90% snail mucin, which is packed with hyaluronic acid and glycerin to hydrate and plump the skin.

3.) SoltreeBundle Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence 

This essence is 96% derived, cruelty-free from snail mucin, and is free from free from alcohol, parabens, sulphates and phthalates, for intense moisture and healing capabilities. It also includes 50 oil control blotting papers.


1.) Dear, Klairs Fundamental Watery Oil Drop

This serum containsJeju Green Tea Water, Rice Extract, Fermented Extracts Peptides for intense moisturizing of tired, rough, damaged, oily skin, without the oily feeling.

2.) PYUNKANG YUL Moisture Serum

This serum contains Astragalus Root to hydrate and vitalize the skin, olive oil for deep moisturization and oriental herbs that all work to deliver hydration and suppleness with zero irritation. 

3.) COSRX Propolis Ampoule Glow Boosting Serum 

This cruelty-parabens-sulfates-phthalates free, serum contains Black Bee Propolis Extract as the key ingredient for its anti-inflammatory properties to reduce stressed, reddened, skin. It is gentle, hydrating, and suitable for all skin types.


1.) ETUDE HOUSE Soonjung Hydro Barrier Cream 

This unscented, hydrating, soothing product for dry skin contains 6 moisturizing and moisturizing-preserving ingredients, making it perfect for dry, mature skin.

2.) beplain Chamomile Intense Moisturizing Facial Cream

This cream contains Ceramide, which helps to hydrate and protect the skin while also helping to strengthen the skin barrier. It’s also packed with chamomile extract, Meadowfoam seed oil, Evening primrose oil, Mango seed butter, and other ingredients to provide your skin with long-lasting moisture.

3.) Dear, Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream

This soothing, calming cream contains Centella Asiatica Extract and Chamomile oil to help regenrate skin and prevent scarring. The formula is non-comedogenic and cruelty-ethanol-paraben-silicon-steroid-artificial coloring-free, and artificial fragrance-free.

Eye Cream

1.) Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream

This eye cream is formulated with snail mucin, e.g.f, adenosine, and peptide which aids in wrinkle care, dark circles and brightening. 

2.) PYUNKANG YUL Black Tea Time Reverse Eye Cream

This is formulated with Korean red ginseng to help brighten and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

3.) COSRX Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream 

This Korean beauty regime favorite contain snail mucin, niacinamide, and peptides to reduce dark circles and tighten skin.

a mini beauty product fridge on a white counter with a pink and green palm leaf background


1.) Etude House Sunprise Mild Airy Finish SPF50+ PA+++

This sunscreen has a mild and refreshing scent, is lightweight and oil-free, and helps to protect your skin from the sun without leaving a greasy or heavy feeling, making it perfect for mature skin.

Another great thing about this sunscreen is that it can be used as a makeup primer.

2.) Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Block Sebum Zero SPF45 PA+++

This sebum-control sunscreen helps to keep your skin matte and oil-free while also providing broad-spectrum sun protection. 

3.) COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream

This cream contains aloe vera to soothe and hydrate your skin while also providing broad-spectrum sun protection. 

Sheet Masks

Look no further than the ultimate:

1.) MIZON Joyful Time Essence Skin Treatment Mask Sheets

This set includes 10 snail mucin sheet masks that are each designed to target specific skincare concerns like:

  • dullness,
  • firmness,
  • moisturizing,
  • pore minimizing,
  • brightening,
  • hydration,
  • elasticity improvement.  

And that’s it! Those are the seven steps of a typical Korean skincare routine to achieve healthy, glowing skin.

Korean Skincare Regimes: Conclusion

Woman's hands shown from above rubbing drops of moisturizer into her skin with a moisturizer jar and lilacs next to her on a pink background

Korean women have long been known for their beautiful and flawless skin, and it’s no secret they have a rigorous skincare routine to achieve such results.

While the Korean skincare routine may seem daunting at first, it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it.

And the best part? You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive products to see results.

We hope you enjoyed this article!

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